AMD Launches New Video Cards and Slashes Prices Ahead of NVIDIA's Maxwell GPU Release

2014-amd-r7-series

Last week AMD beefed up their entry-level and mid-range graphics cards with the introduction of the AMD Radeon R7 250X and the Radeon R7 265. It appears that AMD did this to help fill in both the performance and price between the Radeon R7 260x and the Radeon R9 270 ahead of NVIDIA’s rumored GeForce GTX 750 Ti launch. The addition of these two graphics cards completes the AMD Radeon R7 series for the time being. AMD will be cutting the price of the current Radeon R7 260X cards as a result of the AMD Radeon R7 265 coming to market.
  • AMD Radeon R7 250X – $99
  • AMD Radeon R7 260X 1GB – $119
  • AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB – $129 (AMD says that you might see this card at $119 for a limited time)
  • AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB – $149

The price cut is a pretty big deal as it lowers the price of the AMD Radeon R7 260X cards by about $20 USD and the AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB now sits where the AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB card once was. The $149 price point is super competitive and AMD is making some mid-year changes to make sure they are ready for NVIDIA to release the GeForce GTX 750 Ti and GeForce GTX 750. What is the big deal about NVIDIA's new card? The GeForce GTX 750's will be the first cards by NVIDIA to use GPU's feature the Maxwell microarchitecture. AMD's entry level and mid-range cards are using older architectures, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out this month. 

 
 Radeon R7 260XRadeon R7 265Radeon R9 270Radeon 7870 GHz
Release Date October 2013 February 2014 November 2013 March 2012
Original SRP $139 $149 $179 $349
GPU Bonaire Pitcarin Pitcarin Pitcarin
Process 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
Transistors 2.08 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion
Stream Processors 896 1024 1280 1280
Clock Speed Up to 1.1GHz Up to 1GHz 925 MHz 1000 MHz
Frame Buffer 1GB or 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
Memory Width 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Clock Up to 1625 MHz Up to 1400 MHz 1400 MHz 1200 MHz
Compute Perf 1.97 TFLOPS 1.89 TFLOPS 2.37 TFLOPS 2.56 TFLOPS
Texture Units 56 64 80 80
ROPs 16 32 32 32
Typical Board Power 115W 150W 150W 175W

The AMD Radeon R7 265 has 2GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 256-bit bus and uses a scaled back version of the Pitcairn GPU that has been around since the the Radeon HD 7870 GHz edition was released in March 2012. The AMD Radeon R7 265 has 1024 Stream processors whereas the previous versions of this GPU used on the 7870Ghz, 270X and 270 all have 1280 Stream processors. This configuration on the Radeon R7 265 will offer up 1.89 TFLOPS of compute performance and a memory speed of 5.6Gbps, making it AMD’s best-performing R7 series card. The AMD Radeon R7 265 is just a paper launch (possibly to spoil NVIDIA’s rumored launch of their first Maxwell card) as cards will be shipping late February for a suggested MSRP of $149.

sapphire-265-270-front

AMD did not send us their Radeon R7 265 reference card, but instead shipped us the Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 2G GDDR5 OC with Boost (Part number 11220-34). It is odd that Sapphire calls this card overclocked as it meets AMD's rated clock frequencies for the AMD Radeon R7 265 with a core clock of 900MHz (boost to 925MHz) and a memory clock of 1400MHz (5600MHz effective). AMD sent us a bare board for testing and it looked oddly familiar for some reason. After digging through the pile of video cards that we have here at the test labs we found the Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 2GB GDDR5 OC with Boost that we reviewed last year. The PCB revision number was identical as what appeared to be every last transistor and resistor on the board. The Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 and Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 are pictured above and below.

We contacted Sapphire to find out more information about their graphic card and they responded by saying they hadn't seen anything on it yet. This answer left us confused and then we figured out what AMD did. From what we can tell AMD rushed out the Radeon R7 265 to head off the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 and GeForce GTX 750 Ti. They needed a stronger part at a better price, so the easiest thing to do was to take a Radeon R9 270 and disable some core features and kick it out to the market. We couldn't even get a part number from Sapphire on this card until after it officially paper launched! If you were wondering why we didn't have a review up on launch day it was partially because we didn't know exactly what we had and it was a paper launch anyway.

sapphire-265

After the launch we were finally given a specification sheet (above) that showed the part number, but we've yet to be told a price. We'll just run with the $149 suggested retail price, but it wouldn't be a shocker if it was $10 over MSRP due to the custom cooler and all that.

sapphire-265-270-back

 

When we flipped the video cards over we noticed that the part number and serial number label was missing on the Sapphire R7 265 video card and that made everything click.  It appears that AMD took a bunch of retail Radeon R9 270 cards and flashed them with a new locked down BIOS to become Radeon R7 265 video cards.

sapphire-265-sticker

After closer inspection you an even see where the serial number label once resided on the back of the Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB video card. All that is left is some sticky adhesive and the corner small sliver of the label at one end. Since we basically have a re-flashed card we'll skip straight to testing as you can go back and read the review on the Sapphire Dual-X R9 270 2GB GDDR5 OC with Boost to get all the details. Basically you're looking at a dual-slot card that is 8.7-inches long and when it comes to video outputs you have a pair of DVI connectors (DVI-I and DVI-D), Display Port and HDMI. The card has one 6-pin PCI Express power connector located near the end of the card and Sapphire recommend a 500W or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin power connector. If you wanted to run AMD 2-way CrossFire at some point in time, the recommended PSU is a 600W or greater model with two 75 Watt PCIe power connectors. The Sapphire Dual-X GPU cooler on the R7 265 2GB has two copper 8mm heatpipes with a large cooling fin array that is kept cool with two 74mm fans Sapphire Dual-X card.

Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 2GB Video Card

 Now that you know the background about how the AMD Radeon R7 265 came to be and the finer details about our review sample, we can get to testing!

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 8 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. It should be noted that we average all of our test runs. There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago.

Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

 

test-system

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 1501 that came out on 01/15/2014. We went with the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform as it is PCIe 3.0 certified, so all graphics cards are tested with PCI Express Gen 3 enabled. The Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB 2400MHz quad channel memory kit was set to XMP Profile #2. This profile defaults to 2133MHz with 1.65v and 11-12-12-30 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair AX860i digital power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements than the old Corsair AX1200 power supply that we used from 2012 till this year that had a loud fan that always ran.

gpu-test-system-specs

Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:

The Intel X79 Test Platform

 

Component

 

Brand/Model

 

Live Pricing

 

Processor

 

Intel Core i7-4960X

 

Motherboard

ASUS P9X79-E WS

 

Memory

16GB Kingston 2133MHz

 

Video Card

 

Various

 

Solid-State Drive

 

OCZ Vertex 460 240GB

 

Cooling

 

Intel BXTS13X (Asetek)

 

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i

 

Operating System

 

Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit

 

Monitor

 

Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K

 

Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 2GB OC Video Card GPU-Z Information:

sapphire-265-gpuz

sapphire-265-idle

Batman: Arkham Origins

BatmanOrigins-SS

Batman: Arkham Origins is an action-adventure video game developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it follows the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and is the third main installment in the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide on October 25, 2013.

BatmanOrigins-SS

For testing we used DirectX11 Enhanced, FXAA High Anti-Aliasing and with all the bells and whistles turned on. It should be noted that V-Sync was turned off and that NVIDIA's PhysX software engine was also disabled to ensure both the AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards were rendering the same objects. We manually ran FRAPS on the single player game instead of using the built-in benchmark to be as real world as we possibly could. We ran FRAPS in the Bat Cave, which was one of the only locations that we could easily run FRAPS for a couple minutes and get it somewhat repeatable.

batman-cpu-utilization

The CPU usage for Batman: Arkham Origins was surprising low with just 10% of the Intel Core i7-4960X being used by this particular game title. You can see that the bulk of the work is being done by one CPU core.

batman-fps

Benchmark Results: The Sapphire Dual-X Radeon R7 265 2GB  video card was found to be nice step up from the AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB reference card. We found that performance jumped up 18% between those two cards. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB reference card was also included in testing and you can see that card easily dominates this NVIDIA backed game title. We are just testing 1080P performance on these cards today as that is where most gamers are running and the sub $200 discrete graphics card market is also aiming at 1080P gamers.

batman-time+

Benchmark Results: For those that like to look at frames per second over time we'll be including those charts in this review as well to show you how the cards compare. We picked just one FPS data set per card to create these charts. No big shocker or huge dips here.

Battlefield 4

bf4-screenshot

Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have beem running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States.

bf4-settings

This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the Ultra graphics quality preset as most discrete desktop graphics cards can easily play with this IQ setting at 1080P and we still want to be able to push the higher-end cards down the road. We used FRAPS to benchmark each card with these settings on the Shanghai level.

bf4-cpu-utilization

Battlefield 4 is more CPU intensive than any other game that we benchmark with as 25% of the CPU is used up during gameplay. You can see that six threads are being used and that the processor is running in Turbo mode at 3.96GHz more times than not.

bf4-fps

Benchmark Results: Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings is pretty tough on these high-end cards with a 4K display, but we were belated to find that all of these three cards all averaged above the 30 FPS mark! The AMD Radeon R7 265 pulled way ahead in this benchmark and was found to be 30.9% faster than the AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB reference card and 18.8% faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ Boost. It should be noted that we did not test with the Mantle API and stuck with DirectX 11 to ensure everything was tested on the same API.

bf4-time

The cards shadowed one another very closely in BF4, but the AMD Radeon R7 265 was clearly ahead for pretty much the entire time.

Crysis 3

crysis3-SS

Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each test.

crysis3-settings

crysis3-settings2

Crysis 3 has a reputation for being highly resource intensive. Most graphics cards will have problems running Crysis 3 at maximum settings, so we settled on 4x MSAA with the graphics quality mostly set to Very High with 16x AF.  We disabled v-sync and left the motion blur amount on medium.

crysis3-cpu-utilization

Crysis 3 appeared to run for the most part on just 3 CPU threads and used up about 15-18% of our Intel Core i7-4960X processor with these settings. Notice that the processor speed was at 3.53GHz and we very seldom, if ever, saw the processor go into turbo mode on Crysis 3.

crysis3-fps

Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB was found to be 41% faster than the AMD Radeon R7 260X on this tough benchmark. These performance results don't look so hot, but Crysis 3 gameplay wasn't bad and all and we spent several hours playing through the first part of the game on the Radeon R7 265 2GB video card.

crysis3-time

Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB was about 7.7% faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2/ Boost, but you can see that the NVIDIA card pulled ahead for a split second in a couple places. 

DayZ

 

DayZ-SS

DayZ is a multiplayer open world survival horror video game in development by Bohemia Interactive and the stand-alone version of the award-winning mod of the same name. The game was test-released on December 16, 2013, for Microsoft Windows via digital distribution platform Steam and has sold over 1 million copies in early alpha testing. The game runs on a branch of the Take On Helicopters engine (part of the Real Virtuality engine) and got our attention as it is neither an AMD or NVIDIA backed game title. Bohemia Interactive, NVIDIA and AMD all confirmed that no optimizations are in the game yet, so we figured this would be an interesting game title to purchase and try out.

 dayz-settings

We ran DayZ with the image quality settings fairly cranked up with the quality set to very high.

dayz-cpu-utilization

DayZ appears to be running on the six physical cores of the Intel Core i7-4960X processor and averages around 17-24% CPU usage from what we were able to tell from the CPU utilization meter that is built into the Windows 8.1 task manager.

dayz-fps

Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB was found to be 25.1% faster than the AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB, but was pretty much tied with the GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ Boost.

dayz-time

Benchmark Results: DayZ was a royal pain in the butt to benchmark as the multiplayer online game is very buggy, you have zombies trying to kill you and other players also like to kill you. We originally wanted to run around housing areas, but we couldn't stay alive and running into and out of houses was impossible to reproduce because one time the doors on a house will be open and the next time you get into the server they'll be closed. We opted to run in an open area next to some rail road tracks and as a result the FPS is higher than more graphics intensive areas and the performance was relatively flat. We really wanted to include some DayZ performance numbers though and for $29.99 it never hurts to try something new.

Far Cry 3

Farcry3 Game Screenshot

Far Cry 3 is an open world first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is the sequel to 2008's Far Cry 2. The game was released on December 4th, 2012 for North America. Far Cry 3 is set on a tropical island found somewhere at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. After a vacation goes awry, player character Jason Brody has to save his kidnapped friends and escape from the islands and their unhinged inhabitants.

FarCry 3 Quality Settings

FarCry 3 Video Quality

Far Cry 3 uses the Dunia Engine 2 game engine with Havok physics. The graphics are excellent and the game really pushes the limits of what one can expect from mainstream graphics cards. We set game title to 8x MSAA Anti-Aliasing and ultra quality settings.

 fc3-cpu-utilization

Far Cry 3 appears to be like most of the other games we are using to test video cards and uses up about 20% of the processor and is running on multiple cores.

fc3-fps

Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB graphics card was 35% faster than the AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB and was performing right with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ Boost. The AMD Radeon R7 265 provides a substantial performance uplift over the AMD Radeon R7 260X and it costs just $20 more by the starting MSRP.

fc3-time

Benchmark Results: The AMD Radeon R7 265 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ Boost are clearly performing better than the AMD Radeon R7 260X!

Metro Last Light

 

MetroLL-SS

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.

MetroLL-settings

Metro: Last Light was benchmarked with very high image quality settings with the SSAA set to 2x and 4x AF. These settings are tough for entry level discrete graphics cards, but are more than playable on high-end gaming graphics cards. We benchmarked this game title on the Theater level.

metroll-cpu-utilization

We again found around 20% CPU usage on Metro: Last Light.

metro-fps

Benchmark Results: In Metro: Last Light the AMD Radeon R7 265 was just shy of 30 FPS at 1920x1080, which puts it just ahead of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ Boost  at this resolution. The AMD Radeon R7 260X was 27% slower at 1080P.

metro-time

Benchmark Results: No big performance dips or spikes that are out of the ordinary here!

3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs

Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

 

Fire Strike Benchmark Results:

3dmark

Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark has the AMD Radeon R7 265 scoring 2,690 3DMarks and the AMD Radeon R7 260X coming in slightly lower at 3,856 3DMarks. AMD said that the Radeon R7 265 would become the fastest card in the R7 series and it clearly has.

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the Sapphire Radeon R7 265 with the Dual-X GPU cooler.

Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 OC 2GB Idle Temperature:

sapphire-265-idle

Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 OC 2GB Gaming Temperature:

sapphire-265-load

 

The Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 OC 2GB graphics card was found to idle at 26C with the fan spinning at 1120 RPMs. It should be noted that the ambient room temperature was 16.0C (65F). The Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 hit 55C with the fans running at 2098 RPM when gaming for an extended period of time.

temp-testing

The AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ BOOST are both reference cards with reference GPU coolers on them. The AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB uses the custom Sapphire Dual-X GPU cooler, so performance should be much better and it is.

Sound Testing

We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

noise-testing

The Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB graphics card with the Dual-X cooler was very quiet at idle and when gaming it only hit 44.3dB, which is excellent. You shouldn't be able to hear this card if you have a gaming case that is loaded with a bunch of fans. Sapphire has done a good job on their custom coolers and the Dual-X design has been around for years and is a tried and true design.

Power Consumption

radeonr7-265-power

For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran Battlefield 4 at 1920x1080 and recorded the average idle reading and the peak gaming reading on the power meter.

power-consumption

Power Consumption Results: The entire platform with the Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 OC installed was consuming 113 Watts at idle and hit a maximum of 284 Watts when gaming. These are pretty good power numbers and are about what we expected to see from a card that is said to have a typical board power rating of around a 150 Watts. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti w/ BOOST used about the same power at idle and 24 Watts more power at load and the AMD Radeon R7 260X 2GB was the same at load and 13 Watts lower at load. Usually ~20 Watt differences aren't enough to sway people one way or the other, so it is all pretty close!

Dual Monitor Power Consumption

One of the things that we noticed with the some of the current AMD Radeon graphics card is that they aren't as power efficient as NVIDIA GeForce cards when it comes to multi-monitor setups. This is something we don't often touch on in all of our video card reviews, but it is worth a mention in launch articles like this one for the AMD Radeon R7 265.

dual-monitors

In the GPU-Z screen shots above we have the Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 2GB OC w/ BOOST running with one monitor on the left and two monitors on the right. Yes, Just hooking up the second monitor will cause the power draw to go up and many people don't fully understand this. Having to push pixels and manage the clocks of two displays does put more strain on the GPU and NVIDIA increased the core and memory clock speeds to do this. You also need more voltage an an idle state to run the higher clock speeds and the means more heat and sometimes higher fan speeds. You can clearly see that the GPU idle temperature went up by 11C and the fan speed went up 1% as a result of hooking up a second display to the video card.

  GTX 650 Ti GTX 650 Ti R7 260X R7 260X R7 265 R7 265
# of Displays 1 2 1 2 1 2
Core Clock  324.0 MHz 324.0 MHz 300.0 MHz 300.0 MHz 300.0 MHz 400.0 MHz
Mem Clock 162.0MHz 162.0MHz 150.0 MHz 1625.0 MHz 150.0 MHz 1400.0 MHz
Idle Temp  29C 30C 25C 34C 26C 37C
Idle Power 112W 115W 112W 132W 113W 139W
Fan Speed 30% 30% 20% 20%  20% 21%
Fan Noise 43.1 dB 43.1 dB 38.6 dB 38.8 dB 38.7 dB 38.8 dB

The AMD Radeon R7 260X and the Radeon R7 265 that we used in this review both show significant power increases with a second monitor hooked up.  The AMD Radeon R7 260X jumped up 20 Watts and the AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB increased by 26 Watts. These GPUs both use different slightly different GPU cores (Bonaire and Pitcarin), but you can see that AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture isn't as multi-monitor friendly as what NVIDIA was able to do with their Kepler GPUs.

gtx650-dual-monitors

Here are the GPU-Z shots for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB BOOST reference card that shows one monitor on the left and two monitors on the right. As you can see the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti clock speeds, voltage and fan speeds all don't change when a second monitor is hooked up. The only change is roughly a 5% increase in the memory controller load and about a 1% higher TDP (power consumption) as a result of the higher memory controller load. So, there was a 1C increase in temperature and a 3W increase in power consumption due to this, which is minor compared to the 20W or higher difference seen on comparable cards from AMD.

AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB Video Card Overclocking

How well does the AMD Radeon R7 265 overclock? We were wondering the same thing, so we'll be taking a look at overclocking the Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB Dual-X video card with AMD OverDrive.

amd-overdrive

The Sapphire R7 265 2GB video card comes clocked at 925MHz on the core and 1400MHz on the memory. You can go up to 1050MHz on the core and 1500MHz on the memory in AMD OverDrive. This is identical to what you can do on the Sapphire R9 270 2GB video card, which isn't a shock as the two cards are identical other than the disabled features in the vBIOS.

amd-overdrive-overclock

We had no problems maxing both the GPU and memory sliders out on the Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB video card and were able to increase the power control setting to the highest possible setting of 20% as well.

3dmark-stock

The Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 OC comes clocked at 925MHz on the core and 1400MHz on the memory. With these stock clock frequencies we were able to get a score of 4690 3DMarks in the Fire Strike performance test.

3dmark-oc

We topped out AMD OverDrive at 1050MHz on the core and 1500MHz on the memory with full stability. These higher clock speeds helped to improve our 3DMark Fire Strike score to 5226 3DMarks, which is an improvement of 536 points or 11.4%. Overclocking the AMD Radeon R7 265 proved to be similar to that of the AMD Radeon R9 270 as they both share the Pitcarin GPU. We could have overclocked this card even farther with the Sapphire TRiXX overclocking tool, but didn't see the point as this is basically just a re-flashed Radeon R9 270. We aren't sure if the retail AMD Radeon R7 265 cards will be just reflashed cards that can be unlocked or have things fused off at the factory.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

radeon-r7-265-specs

The AMD Radeon R7 265 might not be that interesting in the fact that it uses the Pitcarin GPU that has been around since March 2012, but it does better performance to gamers at the $149 price point and that is what is important. If you have $149 to spend on a graphics card the AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB currently appears to be the best bang for the buck.  The performance is solid, the efficiency is acceptable (150W TDP), but it is missing support for AMD TrueAudio. Most systems can easily support a 150 Watt graphics card, so this should be able to be dropped into an older system without needing to upgrade the power supply.

We feel that the AMD Radeon R7 265 should be part of the AMD Never Settle Forever game bundle promotion, but sadly AMD isn't going to be making this particular sku part of it for the time being. The AMD Radeon R7 260X at $119 qualifies, but the AMD Radeon R7 265 at $149 does not. Makes sense right?  If you purchase one a qualifying AMD Radeon R7 260X at a participating retailer you'll be eligible Radeon Silver Reward, which means you get to pick two free game titles. Right now those games include Dirt 3, Dues Ex (the original), Sleeping Dogs, Hitman Absolution and Thief (Due to release Feb 25th, 2014. Some of these game titles are getting old, but if you don't have a couple it does help one justify buying a new graphics card easier since you get some games with the purchase.

radeon-r7-265-performance

When it comes to performance the Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 2GB OC was found to be a solid graphics mainstream graphics card. We tested this card only at a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 and found that it easily played every single game we threw at it. Some of the benchmarks we ran were a little too aggressive as we plan on running higher-end cards in the future and still want to be able to use these numbers. In games like Metro: Last Light we enabled 2x SSAA for benchmarking and got 27 FPS on average. If we lowered SSAA to 0.5x the average FPS was up over 50FPS, so changing just one setting by one level has a drastic change to real world gameplay. The Sapphire Dual-X R7 265 2GB is best suited for 1080P gaming and we were amazed by how well a $149 graphics card performs on big title tier 1 PC games that are graphics intensive. 

 Radeon R7 260XRadeon R7 265Radeon R9 270Radeon 7870 GHz
Release Date  October 2013 February 2014 November 2013 March 2012
Original SRP $139 $149 $179 $349
GPU Bonaire Pitcarin Pitcarin Pitcarin
Process 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
Transistors  2.08 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion 2.8 billion
Stream Processors 896 1024 1280 1280
Clock Speed Up to 1.1GHz Up to 1GHz 925 MHz 1000 MHz
Frame Buffer 1GB or 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
Memory Width 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Clock Up to 1625 MHz Up to 1400 MHz 1400 MHz 1200 MHz
Compute Perf 1.97 TFLOPS 1.89 TFLOPS 2.37 TFLOPS 2.56 TFLOPS
Texture Units 56 64 80 80
ROPs 16 32 32 32
Typical Board Power 115W 150W 150W 175W

It is hard to believe that the AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition card was released in 2012 for $349 and that today you can get a slightly reduced version of the same core in the AMD Radeon R7 265 for $149. We have a feeling this will be the last rebadging of the Pircarin GPU.

 sapphire-r7-265-video-card

At the end of the day the AMD Radeon R7 265 doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it brings more performance to the $149 price point. The move to bring this card out was clearly to be competitive with NVIDIA's upcoming GeForce GTX 750 and GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics cards that are based on the new and unseen Maxwell architecture. Will NVIDIA hit a home run with Maxwell? We'll find out soon enough, but for now the AMD Radeon R7 265 is easily recommended for the price versus performance value that it offers. This GPU has also been around since 2012 and that means mature stable drivers are out!

LR Recommended Award

 

Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Radeon R7 265 2GB brings more performance to the table for $149 and should be of interest to gamers running a single 1920 x 1080 display.